Talk:University

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I think this article falls into the class of article which are written from the perspective of a specific group[edit]

I mean, what the article is talking about is "European style universities that started in the middle ages" just because the word "university" is derived from this and that in Latin. I think this is narrow minded and also Wikipedia is not a dictionary. Add to this the fact that Wikipedia has no article for "Institute of higher education" and you see a kind of contempt for those institutes from other cultures. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gypscholar (talkcontribs) 21:31, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

Classification Section[edit]

The example given for states is Massachusetts. However, most of the state colleges in Massachusetts just received university status (Bridgewater State, Fitchburg State, Framingham State, Salem State...), and few if any have doctorate degrees available. I work for one of the above schools, and I can tell you, they have no doctorate program at this time. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 207.206.236.100 (talk) 14:01, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Why is this list so incomplete?[edit]

There are other universities completely overlooked by this article.

Here is my source which even links to Guiness Book of World Records and other sources with universities not mentioned in this article which are much older.

http://collegestats.org/articles/2009/12/top-10-oldest-universities-in-the-world-ancient-colleges/

--KRaZyXmAn (talk) 04:23, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Evolving definition of the University[edit]

In 2007 I quoted the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of a University (from the Second Edition, 1989):

university, n. The whole body of teachers and scholars engaged, at a particular place, in giving and receiving instruction in the higher branches of learning; such persons associated together as a society or corporate body, with definite organization and acknowledged powers and privileges (esp. that of conferring degrees), and forming an institution for the promotion of education in the higher or more important branches of learning; also, the colleges, buildings, etc., belonging to such a body.

This definition, with its focus on the organizational structure of the university has a long historical tradition, but has given rise to a series of edit conflicts on Wikipedia. I recently looked again at the OED and find that it has replaced that with a new definition (from the Third Edition, November 2010):

university, n. 1. a. An institution of higher education offering tuition in mainly non-vocational subjects and typically having the power to confer degrees. Also: the members, colleges, buildings, etc., of such an institution collectively. In later use also in prepositional phrases without article, as at university, to university, etc.
In the Middle Ages: a body of teachers and students engaged in giving and receiving instruction in the higher branches of study (cf. trivium n. 1, quadrivium n. 2) and regarded as a scholastic guild or corporation; an organized body of schools (see school n.1 12a). Later: an institution offering degree courses and research facilities, typically providing some accommodation and other amenities for its students.

This new definition seems to reflect the historical reality that the focus on the corporate structure of the university no longer reflects the status of many modern universities, although it did reflect the situation in medieval Europe. Perhaps this evolving definition offers a way out of some of our recent controversies. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 14:53, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

Having thought a while on this definition, one crucial phrase seems to be "offering tuition in mainly non-vocational subjects". This appears to exclude professional schools such as schools of law, medicine, and theology (which can be traced back to the middle ages) and autonomous schools teaching engineering, architecture, musical performance, and (perhaps) the productive aspects of painting, sculpture, drama, and the other fine arts. The word "mainly" seems to include institutions which taught those subjects in a broader pedagogical context (as medieval universities had advanced faculties of law, medicine and theology and modern universities have schools of engineering, architecture, and performing and fine arts). SteveMcCluskey (talk) 20:21, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't think it's a good practice to rely on a simple dictionary definition of any topic to guide an encyclopedia article when there are much more comprehensive, nuanced, and informed definitions available from scholars who studied and written about the topic in great detail. ElKevbo (talk) 22:26, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
Useful point, but the changing definition in what is widely recognized as the authoritative scholarly source on the English language is a useful sign that the meaning of the term "university" is undergoing a conceptual change. The fact that it is undergoing a change means that we should be especially cautious in using older sources. Finding exactly what that change is and what it implies for Wikipedia can best be found by consulting recent reliable sources on the university and its history. SteveMcCluskey (talk) 15:19, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
It's a preliminary indication of shifts in popular usage, and not really more than that. People might find it helpful to read Wikipedia:Dictionaries as sources. Jonathan A Jones (talk) 06:18, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the link; which discusses the Oxford English Dictionary as a reliable secondary source (in Wikipedia's sense) and also discusses the issue of changing meanings from older editions of dictionaries. This essay's advice is definitely worth considering. SteveMcCluskey (talk) 13:36, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

Academic freedom[edit]

Those who claim that Constitutio Habita is the origin of academic freedom confuse between legal autonomy and freedom from ideological control. This document concerns the former and says nothing whatsoever about the latter. It is simply naive to suppose that institutions founded and protected by the Catholic Church were free in their scholarly pursuits.— Preceding unsigned comment added by 89.191.241.225 (talk) 22:11, 23 August 2013‎ (UTC)

Interesting problem. The medieval universities did not have the range of freedom that the modern universities do; yet their institutional autonomy contributed to their claims of academic autonomy. As church-supported institutions, they could claim autonomy from governmental control (their members had the privilege of clergy) and as organized guilds, they could contest their rights in relation to both church and governmental institutions. Historically, the Church occasionally restricted what could be taught at medieval universities, but the medieval universities' institutional autonomy did contribute to the concept of Academic freedom, in a way similar to the influence of medieval urban charters on the development of political freedom. The Middle Ages wasn't modern, but it did provide the seeds of later developments. SteveMcCluskey (talk) 14:29, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

House of Wisdom (I have added this to the article just want ever one to know)[edit]

The House of Wisdom, considered to be the first university in the world, was established in Abbasid-era Baghdad, Iraq.[1] It is considered to have been a major intellectual center during the Islamic Golden Age. In the later medieval period, as science in Byzantium and the Islamic world waned, Western Europeans began collecting ancient texts from the Mediterranean, not only in Latin, but also in Greek, Arabic, and Hebrew. Knowledge of ancient researchers such as Aristotle, Ptolemy, Euclid, amongst Catholic scholars, were recovered with renewed interest in diverse aspects of natural phenomenon. Teaksmitty (talk) 15:06, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

I removed the text as the cited source doesn't appear to say anything about this being "considered the first university in the world." Did I miss something or make a mistake? ElKevbo (talk) 16:22, 26 August 2014 (UTC)